| Management Strategies
- Consider conditions that might affect mobility . For example, does the person you care for suffer from arthritis or a similar condition, or from a disease that affects circulation? Perhaps they have bunions, corns, callouses or an ingrown toenail that causes pain when they walk. Certain medications can cause drowsiness and chest conditions (i.e., asthma , lung cancer, or bronchitis) and likely cause the person you care for to be too breathless. All of these situations can affect mobility, and are therefore, important to consider.
- Often times, immobility or restricted mobility can lead to social isolation. Find ways to involve the person you care for when you are in a social setting. If they cannot stand or move to the place where everyone is gathered, provide a chair so that they can sit comfortably amongst all the people, and be involved. Look into programs at local health clubs, senior centers or recreational centers which can provide exercise as well as social contact. Exercise can improve mobility and also decrease isolation.
- If the person you care for is at risk for pressure sores due to immobility, it is important to reposition them every two hours. Very frail individuals should be repositioned every hour.
- When foot conditions such as bunions, corns, callouses, verrucae and ingrown toenails are hindering the mobility of the person you care for, get a referral to a chiropodist.
- When constipation due to immobility is a concern, it may help to increase the fiber and water intake of the person you care for. If this does not help, talk to your doctor about the possibility of laxatives.
- Consider installing split bed rails on the bed of the person you care for. These are useful because they provide assistance with mobility but do not act as restraints.
- Install railings in parts of the house which are potentially dangerous for the person you care for. They are useful along stairwells, in the bathtub and beside the toilet. This can increase their sense of security and independence, by allowing them to change position without assistance.
- If mobile, try and have the person you care for involved in some form of exercise, especially low impact exercise. Some low impact sports that improve mobility are water aerobics, walking or dancing. These can strengthen muscles and joints which all help to improve mobility and range of motion. When starting an exercise program, it is important to consult the family doctor for a physical exam .
- Consider getting a walking aid or wheelchair for the person you care for if they have problems getting around on their own. This will allow them to become mobile, and will avoid the pressure sores and constipation that result from immobility. A walking aid also will provide security and comfort to those who are hesitant to walk on their own. If these items would be helpful to the person you care for, but you cannot afford them, there often are programs in your area which can provide assistance to you.
- If the person you care for needs your assistance to get around, they will likely respond better if they feel safe in their environment. Floors that slope, the change from carpet to hardwood, cluttered areas, and areas of varied lighting can cause the person you care for to feel that they are losing balance or that they might slip or trip over something, which in turn may result in decreased mobility.
Similarly, most people, even those with dementia, respond to non-verbal cues. If you are in a hurry or if you sigh when you are trying to help the person you care for to get up, they might get the impression that they are a burden to you or that their attempts are useless. By making the attempt to smile, nod, have frequent eye contact or offer reassuring gestures, you might make the difference between someone giving on a task and completing it.